Nis­san’s new Z-car?

Does the tall, pointy Gripz con­cept point to the 370Z’s re­place­ment?

Top Gear (Philippines) - - New Metal -

That’s not a sports car. That’s an SUV-thing.

Cor­rect. Specif­i­cally it’s a Nis­san ‘Gripz’ SUV-thing, a con­cept un­veiled at the Frank­furt show and her­alded by its cre­ators as a “rad­i­cal sports cross­over.”

I don’t want a sports cross­over. I want a sports…non-cross­over.

Too bad. You’re in the mi­nor­ity. High-rid­ing hatches are where it’s at nowa­days. Seventy per­cent of Nis­sans sold in the UK are now SUV-themed—with the Qashqai and the Juke ac­count­ing for the ma­jor­ity of sales—so fast crossovers will in­creas­ingly be­come less odd­ity and more ne­ces­sity. At the same time, the mar­ket for beefy, big-en­gined two-seat sports cars is rather less bur­geon­ing.

Beefy, big-en­gined two-seat sports cars like the amaz­ing 370Z?

Ex­actly. Which might ex­plain why Nis­san is drop­ping not-so-sub­tle hints that the Gripz pre­views its next gen­er­a­tion Z-car. As well as that cheeky ‘z’ at the end of its name, the of­fi­cial blurb proudly at­tests the Gripz “blends the prac­ti­cal­ity of a compact cross­over with the per­for­mance of a sports car” and pre­views “a new sporty di­rec­tion for crossovers.”

240Z, 280ZX, 350Z, 370Z…Gripz. Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

Ap­par­ently the Gripz’s de­sign pays homage to the jacked-up 240Z that won the East African Sa­fari Rally in 1971, a rally-raider Nis­san de­scribes as the firstever cross­over. As con­nec­tions go, it’s hope­ful.

So Z’s dead?

Not for a while, at least. The Gripz con­cept is of­fi­cially de­scribed as a de­sign state­ment rather than a re­place­ment for any ex­ist­ing model: Nis­san bosses told us the Gripz was a glimpse into the firm’s fu­ture of per­for­mance, rather than a direct pre­view of their next Z-car. “There is no ur­gency in 370Z,” prod­uct plan­ning chief Philippe Klein told us. “It’s still a good as­set for the com­pany. It has a good cus­tomer base.”

So long as the next Z has a fat, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V6 un­der the hood, I’ll live with this cross­over non­sense.

Un­likely, we fear. The Gripz is pow­ered by a petrol­elec­tric range ex­ten­der, with Nis­san ac­knowl­edg­ing the ‘con­straints’ of econ­omy and CO2 suf­fered by mod­ern sports cars. When we asked Klein if the next Z car could go turbo, he ad­mit­ted Nis­san was “open and con­sid­er­ing all dif­fer­ent op­tions”. We sadly sus­pect the days of the 370Z’s 3.7-liter V6 are lim­ited.

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